We went out and did some shopping today for household stuff and groceries.  Aaaaand I had a 50% off coupon from Michael's so I scored a Polymer Clay Pasta Machine for rolling out sheets of clay and combining colors and all sorts of other fun things.
This should be helpful in some upcoming projects I have in mind.

We're settling in for a quiet New Year's.  Tom has some beer and we got some sparkling lemonade to toast with.  Oreo has been busily burying his tennis ball in the Xmas tree skirt and then digging for it and has succeeded in dragging the whole skirt off the tree and across the room.
I think movies are in order eventually.

Happy New Year, everyone!


And now I'm pissed

My prescription coverage (which we have to do via mail for long-term meds) refuses to fill the new prescription for Plaquenil in either the name brand or generic because:
this drug is NOT COVERED by your benefit plan OR may NOT BE THE APPROPRIATE REGIMEN as defined by your plan
Of course, they don't bother to tell me this until about 20 minutes ago, when it's too late to talk to an actual human at either my insurance office, the drug coverage office, or my doctor.  Sweet.  Asshats.
I left a message for my rheumatologist, though at the time I thought they just wouldn't fill it because she hadn't marked "may fill with generic" or something.
Hopefully we will get this sorted out after the new year.

I was really wanting to try this med in the hopes it would help with the fatigue and pain and other autoimmune issues. I had, in the very back of my mind even dared to hope that maybe it will let me get some independence back and make it possible for me to expand the pool of potential jobs.
Now, because we've commoditized health care, some paper-pushing bureaucrat with little or no medical training got to decide what medicine I should take without consulting me or my doctor.
I'll add, too, that this is not a new drug or a designer drug, nor even an outrageously expensive drug (though with our current financial situation it is something that will be a stretch on our budget.)  Anyway, I'm going to check and see if the maker of the name-brand stuff has a discounted/free meds program too, just in case my rheumatologist yelling at them doesn't help matters.

The next person who tells me that there is nothing wrong with the healthcare system in this country better be way the hell out of reach of my cane and/or my knitting needles.

I was already in a funk this week.  This is not helping.

ETA:   I guess I'm glad I only blew a little of my Xmas money on books and knitting needles - I can save the rest for sweet, delicious malaria meds that might fix my autoimmune brokenness if it turns out whoever makes Plaquenil doesn't have a "holy freakin' crap I'm not a millionaire but would like it if I could have a decent quality of life and maybe work for a living" program.



Despite a migraine, I've been fiddling with two pieces of reference management software as I pull together stuff I'd like to look at regarding spinning and history of textiles.
The first is Mendeley.  I like the web-based nature and I especially like the bookmarklet that allows for importing of references from webpages like Amazon or Web of Science or any number of other common research databases.  I also like the social-networking potential for sharing resources, citation lists, etc.  Unfortunately, it is very slow (at least for me) at the moment.  The bookmarklet can take ages to load.  I haven't imported old citation libraries yet (when I was more active in research as a graduate student and research assistant I typically used EndNote and haven't yet exported those old libraries).
Mendeley also interfaces with OpenOffice.  I haven't tried it yet, but I'm hoping it will be similar to the CiteWhileYouWrite function in EndNote which was a huge blessing for me as a graduate student.

I've also started playing with BibDesk.  After a few false-starts, I think I'm getting the hang of it.  I like it a bit better than Mendeley in some ways - it's faster and a bit easier to use.  I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the internal browser for finding references, especially since GoogleScholar freaks out a bit and thinks I'm a bot if I do too many searches and imports.  I'm slowly getting the hang of creating new references and was very excited when I finally figured out the importing from clipboard feature which allows for highlighting, say, a bibliographic entry from a document or web-page works cited, going to BibDesk, highlighting the author name, title, etc., one at a time and telling BibDesk which is which.  Very, very cool.
I'm not sure if BibDesk integrates as well with a word processor, but I'm using both applications for the time being, so while it might be mildly awkward to keep them both updated with each other, it should be possible to generate bibliographic lists for printing or in articles.



Nice low-key day again today.  I went and bought some new reading material.   I'm shopping for spindles and spindle kits.  And while I'm at it,  I'm collecting titles of resources on the history of textile production, archaeology and textiles, and in particular textiles in the ancient Near East (and Egypt, for those who have decided that Egypt wasn't part of the Near East).  I'm hoping for a library excursion some time next week.
Partly this is out of curiosity - textiles were not really something I paid much attention to prior to getting interested in knitting and crocheting -  and partly with a vague idea of developing a continuing education course about textiles and the ancient Near East, possibly with a bit of hands-on fun with drop spindles and wool and/or linen.
Actually, I should amend the above - textile production was something I worked on for my BA paper long, long ago, but I didn't delve much into it.  I should probably dig that thing out again and have a look at it though...



To the right you can see the product of my hard labor with the sewing machine: a laptop sleeve for Tom's new MacBook Pro. I used the really awesome pattern from Sew Mama Sew with a few modifications. I couldn't find fusible fleece, so I would up using double-sided sewable fusing to stick quilt batting to the appropriate pattern pieces. I used a cigar patterned quilting cotton for the lining and black twill for the exterior.
It's a nice, snug fit and pleasantly soft without being too fluffy.
For the motif on the exterior I found a photograph of a bannerstone, did a basic automated trace of it in Inkscape, printed it out, traced it onto half of a manilla file folder using graphite paper and then cut out the outline using an Xacto blade to make a stencil.
I stuck a good-sized book inside the finished case, put a washcloth over it just in case there was any bleeding from the paint, and then pinned the stencil to the case with a multitude of pins.
Then I used white textile paint and a sponge brush and filled in the stencil and went over it with some pewter textile paint and a smaller sponge brush to get the look of veining in the stone.
I really enjoyed this project and am very happy that Tom likes it and it turned out so well.
The only major snags were the lack of a free arm on my sewing machine, which made stitching around the opening a huge pain and the fact that the basting spray I bought to stick the batting to the lining wound up not having a spray nozzle. I wound up with the double-sided fusible, though, and I think it worked out much better in the end.

For my presents, I got more sock monkey jammies and matching slipper socks (aren't they fabulous?) and one set of double pointed knitting needles with the instruction to buy a set of multiple sizes of my choosing. I went with these from Amazon. This means I'm a step closer to knitting socks!
I also have cash to do something with. I'm considering a new low-end sewing machine with a bit more funcitonality - buttonholes, more stitches, more presser foots, and a free arm. Nothing particularly fancy.

Oreo got some new treats that are supposed to be good for his joints and a rubber squid thing with long felt tentacles.

So, a wonderful Christmas all around.  I hope everyone else had as nice a day!
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Oooh, the weather outside is frightful...

(And I accidentally it "Enter" after typing the title, resulting in a blank post...)

Should have grabbed some photos when we were out with Oreo earlier.  We got a few inches of snow yesterday and today has been snow, sleet, and rain.  The sidewalks are a lovely mess.  I broke out theYaktrax and my Ice Grip on the cane for the first time this winter.  I am very grateful for both when I have to be outside when it's slippery.
Poor Oreo may have had negative reinforcement for asking to go out.  I mean, we honestly expect him to walk in stuff that is not only wet, but cold, too?

I have been plugging along on Tom's present.  Oreo has been "helping" by keeping me company on his pillow near the sewing machine.


Progress and a Christmas Announcement

Well, I got all the fabric cut for Tom's Xmas present today.  Then I went to use my spray on adhesive basting spray and discovered that the aerosol can had no nozzle.  And no tube for the nozzle head.  Suckage.
So, Tom kindly took me on an emergency run to Michael's this evening where I acquired replacements for the stupid-ass basting spray that will probably be less annoying to use anyway.
We've also decided we're just going to send everyone their stuff for Little Christmas.  Long live the Irish and the Gregorian calendar.  Anyone who doesn't like it can suck it.  I haven't had a day below "moderate" on the pain scale in at least 10 days and most of the pain has been in my hands (which are sort of vital for crafting).  It's cold.  I'm exhausted.  Tom has a job and other things to do and Oreo has no thumbs.  So, Xmas presents will be late.  So will cards.




So, in an effort to reduce anxiety and get in some stretching and light exercise, I decided to check out what Netflix instant play and/or video podcasts had to offer in the realms of yoga and Tai Chi    I need very low-impact things.  I was trying to avoid yoga just because it can be so challenging for me to get on and off the floor, but I think I may not have a choice.  I'm also tending to prefer videos to classes because a)  I'm cheap; b)  I want something to do even when I don't feel up to leaving the apartment.

So, I found a cool-looking video podcast (Tai Chi for Well-Being) of the 24 basic Tai Chi poses.  Unfortunately, it was waaaaay too complicated for my fragile brain and crippled body to follow.  Even with Tom trying to help me that was a big "hell, no, not happening."  I either need a real, live, very patient good-humored instructor or a video that breaks things down into very small, very slow steps.

So, I instead tried  Healing Yoga:  For Common Conditions  which is aimed toward people who have issues with weight, diabetes, and/or high cholesterol.  Not really me, but whatever.  It's broken into three sections.  You can do just one or add on.  I got through the first 12 minute session only barely.  Srsly.  I'm still super wobbly/shaky all over.  And I'm having more involuntary movements, but at this point I've almost given up trying to control them.

It's just basic breathing and some stretches but was still super hard and seemed really fast and hard to follow to me.  Tom was watching, though, and said I did pretty well, so maybe it was just me.  It's sort of hard to tell if it's partially my cognitive junk or if it's that I can't move quickly, or what.  Anyway, I'm tired out.  If I don't find anything better, I'll probably try to stay with the first session on a semi-regular basis until it gets easier and then move up.  I have to be careful not to over-do it or it will be counterproductive and wind up with me in bed for a day or more recovering, which sort of defeats the whole purpose.

Oreo is also tired out.  He "helped" by occupying the very center of my yoga mat, barking at the TV when the woman first went into a downward kneeling pose, and refusing to get off my mat when I needed to put my hands where his butt was.  So, we both got a workout.  He's sleeping it off curled up on my lap right now.

So, I have a few other things in my Instant Play queue to try (I love my Roku).  It will play video podcasts now via Mediafly, too, which is also awesome.  If anyone has any workout recommendations, I'd love to hear them.

I've given some thought to a Wii Fit set-up, but I'm a little worried about the balance board - mostly I'm worried about falling off the balance board.  My balance is dreadful.  If you give me a field sobriety test I fail.  So, I'd hate to spend $100 only to have a bunch of stuff I can't use for fear of breaking myself.


I should be doing stuff

Still recuperating from a very busy week and so spent most of the day reading in bed again.  I don't know if it's the weather or tiredness or what but my pain levels are back up too, especially in my hands, which makes working on the Xmas stuff not really happen so much.  And my right hand has been going numb just from holding a paperback book, so I think I'll give it a bit more rest.

Anyway, we did go and get our Xmas tree last night from Home Depot.  I rode around on one of the courtesy scooter thingies because spasms plus pain plus tired plus giant-ass store does not make for a good mix.  This one was nice enough but very slow.  Very reminiscent of the Seinfeld episode when George winds up in the low-speed chase on the scooters.
Our tree is very nice - a Douglas fir this year - and it smells wonderful.  And we found wintergreen plants for sale and scored one.  I was very excited - there's a part in Farmer Boy  about collecting wintergreen berries and leaves to eat and use for flavorings, so extra nerd coolness.  They should do well in our window - the need indirect light which is perfect.


Interesting story from the Trib

Disabled and out of work -- chicagotribune.com

While I'm not as disabled as many of the people featured in the story, I share some of the same issues.  I would like to be able to work.  Unfortunately finding an appropriate job that is also willing to make accommodations seems really challenging.  At the moment, finding a job at all is sufficiently challenging.  Not to mention the fact that I don't know if I can take advantages of some of the social services for the disabled as some are limited only to people eligible for or receiving Social Security disability payments, others require a separate sort of certification and, on top of it all, some of my doctors are hesitant to label me "disabled" as they seem to think that I am "too young" or that doing so will somehow adversely affect my prognosis.
It's immensely frustrating.  Young or not, the fact remains that I have been unable to work for over 18 months.  I have been trying to find a job that I can do from home or that requires little or no travel.  I don't want a handout.  I do want to work but I also don't want to sacrifice my health in order to bring in a paycheck.  Grrrr.
I really, really hope that in the coming years there is more focus on publicizing social and human services for the disabled, educating the public at large about the realities of disability, and educating employers about the actual cost/benefit results of accommodations for disabled workers.
Failing that, if someone would give me a grant for blogging, reading, playing with Oreo, and knitting, that would be awesome. :P

The Cognitive Testing Results and Other Things

In short, there are some very mild deficits in functioning.  My attention fluctuates.  My semantic memory is not so great.  My cognition speed has slowed.  There are moderate to severe impairments in my fine motor skills and grip strength.  I suspect the motor skills would be worse if I hadn't taken up knitting and crochet.
I expected most of that.  The attention issue makes sense of what I was thinking of as memory problems - if my attention is not steady or as good as it should be on occasion, then obviously I won't encode memory properly at times. It also helps explain my sort of sensory overload in crowded conditions and why I can't really multi-task anymore.  The cognitive slowing also makes sense - it takes me longer to do things/comprehend things.  I get there in the end, it just takes a bit longer.
In most areas I was "average" which, for me, may indicate some deficits but, as we don't have a full testing range available from prior to my illness, we have to sort of guess.  I'm trying not to worry about it too much.
My verbal IQ is still quite high, which is reassuring.  It makes the semantic impairment a little more frustrating - constructing what I think to be a nicely flowing sentence with carefully chosen words only to then hit a word that I cannot think of/recall is irritating.  I dislike being reduced to saying "that thingie over there" on a regular basis.  :P

Regarding the somatoform stuff:
I do test very high for anxiety related to somatic concerns.  Very high.  Higher than I expected, but I suppose maybe we shouldn't be surprised.  Even though I know that what's going on isn't deadly or all that dangerous (at least not in the immediate sense) it is scary.  But, the neuropsych people think that this isn't uncomplicated somatoform or conversion disorder.  It's far more complicated than that.  Instead, it's clear that stress and anxiety play a role in my symptoms and that, in turn, my symptoms play a role in my stress and anxiety.  (Take that, Descartes)  I already knew this and, in fact, had pointed it out.  I feel worse physically when I feel bad emotionally.  So, stuff is not "all in my head" nor am I "crazy."  Nor can my symptoms be entirely explained by psychological issues.  I now feel comfortable in telling anyone who says otherwise that they can suck it.  It's also probably worth noting that I took all these tests just a few days before I was due to find out the results of my Huntington's Disease test, so, yeah, I would guess that unless I had been in a coma I would have had some high anxiety levels.

Overall, they feel that some of the attention and cognitive slowing may be due to my anxiety, but they feel that it's more due to a combination of autoimmune disorders, the minor white matter lesions evident in my MRIs, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

So, the plan is to work more on managing stress and anxiety in therapy, which is something we've already been working on.  I have already been compensating for the attention issues and cognitive slowing by trying to plan out tasks and have everything for a task together in one place before I get started.  Sometimes easier said than done.

As a broader plan, we'll see what the new neurologist has to say when I see her again in January.  If she's seeming to take a view of somatoform disorder and the test results as "it's a purely psychological issue" she will be fired.
If she has a more nuanced view after seeing the full report, then we'll see where we go from there.  I think I want to be re-evaluated for multiple sclerosis.  Even if it means another spinal tap.  (Sob.)
I also want to see if we can find someone who specializes in autoimmune related neurological problems.
We are also going to look into a referral to an occupational therapist so that I can be evaluated for driving ability.  This is based on the recommendation of the neuropsych people - the cognitive slowing, motor control, and attention issues make me want more data before I attempt to drive again.

With my psych team, we may re-consider trying one of the medications for ADD/ADHD.  I've been very hesitant to do this because I've become extremely sensitive to caffeine in the past few years with it increasing tremors and involuntary movements, my heart rate is typically very high, and I had a bad experience with Provigil.  So, trying another stimulant is something I'm a bit wary about.  However, if I can try it in a  carefully controlled situation I think it might be worth it.

In other news, my rheumatology appointment went fairly well.  My pulmonary functions tests show borderline mild neuromuscular weakness.  Yet another "minor" test oddity to add to the group.  They are starting me on Plaquenil to see if it helps with some of my symptoms.  It's also a malaria drug.  After the OMG teh malarias scare in 2005 it seems like we've come full circle.  I have high hopes for this one helping with my fatigue and pain.



Had a lovely dinner out with friends today at a new-ish neighborhood restaurant that combines, oddly, Italian food and sushi.  Very good.
Got absolutely nothing done today as I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed until about 3PM and I'm still exhausted and planning on heading to bed soon.
Tomorrow will be busy, too, but interesting I'm sure.


Prism Glasses - Prism Reading Glasses

Prism Glasses - Prism Reading Glasses

If I ever have to have another spinal tap or otherwise wind up flat on my back for an extended period, I am definitely getting some of these. Thanks to one of my Ravelry buddies for pointing them out to me.


Hard at Work

I've spent most of the day working on Xmas gifts.  I've been carving stamps to use on polymer clay to make pendants and such.  I have a sinking suspicion that most of our Xmas stuff is going to be a bit late this year.  Things are taking a bit longer than I had anticipated, plus I didn't adequately allow for sick-time in my long-range planning.
Anyway, I think I'm done for the day - I have one set of pendants stamped.  Still need to be baked and finished.  But my arms hurt and my hands hurt and my head hurts.  So, done.  So there.  Nah.

I have a busy week ahead too.  Therapy tomorrow.  Dinner Wednesday.  Rheumatology and cog testing follow-up on Thursday.  Dinner on Thursday.  I already want a nap just thinking about it.


My life of excitement

Just watched Star Trek:  The Motion Picture because I was feeling in the mood.  Unfortunately, I only have the films on VHS.  I haven't watched a VHS tape in years.  Based on the past few hours, then, I have the following observations:
- Holy crap that was some static-y sci-fi.  Must obtain DVDs
- I'm kind of amazed that our VHS player actually still works.  The remote doesn't (even with new batteries), but the player does.
- Do we ever find out why Kirk's hair changes from light brown/dark blonde and mostly straight to dark brown and wavy between the series and the films?  Do they work in an Interstellar Hair Club commercial in the background somewhere?  A freak shuttle accident?
- Could they not have gotten the Ilia-probe some freakin' pants?  Is having cold legs and potentially flashing your robotic girl parts part of "observing the normal functions" on the Enterprise?  (Actually, now that I think back on the women's uniforms from the original series, I think it may well be...)
- I think Doctor McCoy shops for his civilian clothing at Intergalactic Disco Pimps R Us.   He's sporting a pretty awesome gold medallion with his open-neck wing-collared jumpsuit thing along with the Unabomber beard.  Pretty awesome belt-buckle, too.
- The uniforms from this movie are awful.  Who the hell thought pants with boots built in and pastels were a good idea?  Also, spandex is not forgiving.

In other news, I got several inches knitted on the sweater I'm working on for an Xmas gift.  My nose is freezing for some reason.  And I'm now trying to come up with a potential product-line for an Etsy shop called "Intergalactic Disco Pimps R Us."

Hermione Granger Doll

Hermione Granger Doll
Originally uploaded by makelifeadorable

Check out makelifeadorable's awesome Hermione amigurumi. I love the details - hair, Gryffindor scarf, robe. She's fabulous!
Makelifeadorable has also made a Snape, for you Potter fans, along with some other adorable creations available in her Etsy shop.

(Also, I love her Flickr name)

Holy crap, it's freezing

My mom left yesterday, sadly for her not in time to miss the excruciating cold (11 degrees F, with windchill it felt like -16).  I was very glad she came to visit and I think seeing me go through the basic neurology exam may have helped her understand things a bit.  She still tends to attribute a lot of my discomfort to "sitting around too much" but I can cope with that.  I wish it *was* because I sit around too much, unfortunately, regular attempts to be more active have demonstrated exactly what my limits are and what activities trigger major levels of pain.  So, I keep as active as I can up to the point where the pain and fatigue becomes too much.
Anyway, a very dear friend took us to the airport and then took me to do a bit of shopping yesterday.  I got supplies for Tom's Xmas present.  I also finally acquired some casual pants that fit properly - since last year when I gained weight I have had only two pairs of pants that aren't part of a suit that are big enough and both pair were jeans.  So, I have some corduroy pants now to, hopefully, keep me warm and stretch my wardrobe a bit.  Yay!  Also, I am definitely done in for trying on clothes for at least a month.

I've had a very couple of weeks and am thus sore and very tired.  Even though it's warmer today, the apartment feels very cold so I haven't felt up to doing much besides huddling on the couch with Oreo and the heating pad.  I'm hoping it will warm up later so I can work with polymer clay.  I have Xmas presents to make.

I'm trying not to worry too much about the somatoform thing.  We are trying to keep an open mind but Tom and I still don't think that it's a sufficient explanation for my symptoms.  There will be more discussion about this next week and I guess we'll see where that takes us.


The latest news

I saw my neurologist yesterday.  My mom is also in town.  These things are actually related.
Though I chose not to publicize it via the blog at the time, they ran a genetic test for Huntington's Disease.  Though there is absolutely no family history of anything even vaguely resembling it, it was something that needed to be eliminated as a possibility.
I was, understandably, terrified at first.  So, I yelled for my mommy.  And she came running.  Yay for good mommies.
Over the course of the 3 weeks we had to wait for results, after the initial shock wore off, I was fairly calm - the possibility of HD was scary, but is was also incredibly, incredibly remote.
As I expected, the test came back negative.  I will not be turning into a hot bisexual doctor on House or turning into a really awesome folk singer.

The other news, however, is that the very, very preliminary results of my cognitive testing suggest the possibility of a somatoform disorder because I am "concerned about my body and health."  I immediately pointed out that I would think it would be natural for me to be concerned about my body and health given that it doesn't freakin' work properly at the moment.  Anyway, they want me to seriously consider the possibility.  I am less than pleased by this.
One, I considered the possibility 18 months ago when I first started having the major movement issues - I was depressed, I was freaked out over horribleness at work and school, I didn't want to return to that situation.  I wondered if my brain was trying to find a way out for me that didn't require me to throw up my hands and say "I quit."  While I suppose it is still possible that that is precisely what happened, it doesn't explain why I've had major, increasing issues with fatigue over the course of a decade or why I was having balance problems starting in 2006.
Two, I have been being seen in psych for over a year, partly because of my concerns about a somatoform disorder.  I came right out and asked about it and stated my fear that I was, in some way, doing this to myself, however unconsciously.  They didn't seem to think so.  I've been seen there regularly by a therapist and semi-regularly by a psychiatrist.
Three, I would think that having removed myself from the incredibly stressful situation and improved my mental health would have helped the situation.  If anything, while my mental health is remarkably improved, my physical health is the same or slightly worse.  Unfortunately, there is very little evidence based medicine to demonstrate what causes somatoform disorders or how to effectively treat them.  And, frankly, the minute someone brings up Freud I mostly want to slap them.  Or say "he also thought Akhenaten was Moses, so I don't think I'm going to take him seriously, thanks..."

The limited reading I've done about somatoform disorders also suggests that patients diagnosed with it are often really, really freaked out about their health.  I'm not so much freaked out.  I was when the movement stuff first started happening.  Once I figured out that it was just uncomfortable as hell but didn't herald a full seizure or something else that qualified as an emergency, I just find them really damn annoying.  Until they're under control I have trouble walking places and doing things with my hands and there is no way I'll get behind the wheel of a car but I really don't think those things count as "panic" but rather as "common sense."
I am vigilant, but who wouldn't be in my situation?  I don't think I'm hyper vigilant.  I take note of symptoms daily to try to track patterns.  I rarely even call my doctors between appointments  - if something new/weird happens, I tend to adopt a wait and see approach.
I will be totally honest, too - I'm not comfortable with a somatoform disorder diagnosis because I am afraid of the stigma often associated with it.  While some doctors and ordinary people are very understanding and recognize that this isn't a deliberate thing done by the patient to themselves, many, many others are not.  I don't want to be written off as having a purely psychological issue.  I really don't want that to become a major issue as I go through life if other medical problems occur - I don't want to have to convince people to run tests or actually *believe* me because they see "somatoform disorder" in my notes and immediately decide that it's "all in my head."

In any case, I have a meeting to discuss the full results of the cognitive testing in about 10 days.  Hopefully by that time they will have had a more extensive review of the test and my records, and we will have more clarity.
I also managed to talk my way into more diagnostic tests from neurology, including an EMG later today, so we'll see if that shows anything.


Cognitive testing

Yesterday was my day long cognitive testing.  I felt like crap but went anyway because, really, I frequently feel like crap and I wanted to get this over with.
Everyone was super, super nice and while I was exhausted, sore, and had a splitting headache by the end of the day it wasn't all that terrible.
The morning test battery was composed of things like naming drawing of things (a pyramid and a sphinx were among the drawings, which made me laugh), facial recognition with photographs, a bit of memory stuff, some drawing, and some problem solving.  I also had to name words (no proper nouns) starting with various letters.  The first letter was "f."  Guess what the first word that popped into my brain was?  I didn't say it.  Probably should have.
Another one was the letter "a" - I confused the proctor with that one a bit with the words arroyo and auroch.  I have no idea why those popped into my head.  Completely understandable - if you haven't spend time in the West/Southwest and aren't a total archaeology nerd those words are a little on the weird side.
We got through the morning tests really, really quickly.
We had a break for lunch and Tom kindly brought me the sandwich and milk I had asked him to stash in the fridge at work and he and another dear friend hung around to keep me company in one of the hospital lounge areas while I ate.
The tests after lunch were not so fast or easy.  I had to do math in my head.  That was a disaster once we got past very basic addition/subtraction/short division type stuff.  And then there were the spatial tests.  Wow were those bad.  Some were 3-d with cubes to manipulate.  Others were drawings that I had to manipulate in my head.  I was reduced to more or less random guessing by the end.
There were word definitions - challenging for both me and the proctor since that can be fairly subjective.  Also challenging given my deep, deep desire to be a total smartass.
A random set of trivia questions, one of which was "Who was Cleopatra?"  Um, which one? :P
More memory stuff including random strings of words, numbers, and numbers and letters.  Ow.  Pattern following.  Ow.
More facial recognition.  And I have to say, for both sets of the facial recognition photos, there were some homely-ass people.  The first set was black-and-white photos.  Most of the women looked like ordinary people you would see every day.  The men though - dude, based on the brow ridges and the ears I think they found still living Neanderthals and possible illegitimate members of the British royal family.
The second set was color photos.  A large proportion of them seemed to have been culled from dermatological photos.  Others were slightly dirty, vacant-eyed children who were a bit disturbing in the sense of giving off the "I've been abused" vibe.  And there were some random Asian people tossed in, all of whom seem to have been instructed to look either totally vacant or sullen.  It was very odd.  I'm now deeply curious to know where and how they obtain the photos for these things.
They're trying to get the analysis done as quickly as they can for me, though it usually takes 2-3 weeks for the full report.  The doctor in charge of the testing is going to give it a quick look this weekend so he can at least give my neurologist a brief first impression (how awesome is that!?!) and I go back on the 17th to get my full, in-person results.


Latest Project

I got nearly all the dishes from Thanskgiving and the past few days done today. And I dusted and dust-mopped the apartment. Yay, me!

I also put together a wreath for the front door to replace my autumnal broom.

The first photo is all the supplies put together. The second is the finished product.
It wound up being very simple, but I think I like that - I don't like a whole bunch of junk all over. I do like the ickle birdies, though.
Not sure if I'll put it up tonight or wait a bit.

We're having a guest for dinner this evening, assuming I can stay awake that long. I've been awake since 5:30 this morning. Hopefully this will help me maintain a reasonable schedule so I can do the stupid cognitive testing on Thursday. (And hopefully I didn't just jinx myself by saying that.)

Edit:  Turns out we aren't having a dinner guest, which Tom emailed me about several hours ago, but because of the way Gmail nests messages, I didn't notice.  Which means I spent several hours wearing a bra for no good reason.  Not cool.  :P
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Five years ago today I had been in Egypt working on a dig for about a month. One of my friends snapped this picture of me. It's one of my very favorites.  We had all decided at one point that this one have to be the author photo for my first book.

Things that have changed:

  • I have more hair and more of it is gray
  • I don't smoke anymore
  • Those pants totally don't fit anymore.
  • The friend who took the photo left the field and is now a nurse.
  • I've left the field and need a nurse.
  • I doubt I'll have a first book.

Things that are the same:

  • I still own all three of the shirts I'm wearing and still wear them on occasion.
  • I'm still snarky as hell.
  • I still occasionally wear bandanas to cover up crazy hair.
  • I still love Egypt and want to go back.

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